This is impressive stuff, finally giving cyclists the road space they deserve through the centre of London. A properly separated lane might actually entice large numbers of other travellers onto two wheels, in a way no previous infrastructure project has.
It's interesting that the new Superhighway will link to CS3, which is generally deemed a success, and not to CS2 which is still wildly substandard along much of its length. But the new proposals owe much to the CS2 extension along Stratford High Street, completed in autumn last year, which brought early start junctions and bus stop bypasses to our streets. It also pioneered the acquisition of traffic lanes for bikes, reducing a six lane highway to four, and similar plans are now scheduled for the Embankment. Here's an artist's impression.
The Embankment's a very clever choice for a cycle superhighway, firstly because it has no bus routes, so TfL aren't taking capacity away from their own services. And secondly there are no road junctions on the riverward side, other than the occasional bridge, which removes all those nasty conflict situations that sometimes kill people. On the downside, look, there are now only three lanes of traffic, still two running west but just one to the east. This has the potential to slow down vehicles and create tailbacks at busy times, which could then cause repercussions on neighbouring streets. TfL admit as such...
Essentially cyclists benefit greatly, and all other road users take a hit. There'll be plenty of times of day when disruption is minimal, but your drive, your bus journey and even your power-walk are likely to take longer. And lane shrinkage isn't limited to the Embankment. It'll happen north-south on Farringdon Street and Blackfriars Road too, and they're even threatening to shut one lane on the elevated A40 Westway! Thanks to the CS2 extension there are already times on Stratford High Street when I avoid taking the bus home to Bow because the jams between Westfield and the Bow Roundabout are far worse than before. Now more central parts of London will get to experience what providing proper facilities for cycling really means.
It's worth taking a look at the detailedplans for various sections of the new routes, where TfL have been comprehensive in trying optimise each section as best they can. This means closing and shifting bus stops, banning certain right turns, paving over parking spaces, even removing parking for the disabled in some places. It would be all too easy to reply to TfL's consultation with a general "Wow, yes, this is precisely what cycling in the capital's been waiting for", whereas what's really required is a forensic analysis of the new superhighway's path, junction by junction. Iron out the wrinkles at this stage and more than simply bikes might benefit.
Somewhere at TfL HQ a team is busy drawing up similar plans for the road outside my house. They're desperate to upgrade CS2 from an embarrassing blue stripe to something mostly-segregated, and they'll be announcing their intentions some time in the next few months. I hope they're creating something marvellous, but I worry they might be taking liberties with the footpath outside my front door, or relocating my local bus stop, or increasing the exhaust fumes I breathe in by restricting space for road traffic. Time will tell.
In the meantime, do check the east-west and north-south Cycle Superhighway plans carefully, providing constructive feedback as appropriate. Because this consultation isn't about giving cyclists due priority - that battle's finally been won - the key thing now is getting the details right.